It's a major international public health issue and has become even more prominent in recent years, with the tragic suicides of several kids who were plagued by bullying, including, Brandon Myers, Megan Meiers, and Phoebe Prince, whose death last year led to anti-bullying legislation in Massachusetts and serious charges against the kids who bullied her.
Bullying has always existed. I have memories of being bullied and witnessing bullying as a child, and I'm sure many of you do as well. I think the reason so many are talking about it now are:
- the Internet and 24/7 news cycle means that, no matter where something occurs, the entire country knows about it in a matter of an hour or two, if that. Nothing is local anymore. And it's not just that everybody knows. Everybody is talking about it. And everybody has an opinion. So something like Phoebe Prince's death, which might have been a local event in the past, touches off a firestorm. (I think this phenomenon is both good and bad. But more on that another time)
- youth have new ways of bullying, so the same behavior is occuring, just in more places and in new forms. Cyberbullying has become a recognized problem.
Kids who bully are, apparently, also at higher risk for suicide. But, oddly, they tend to have higher than average self-esteem. They overestimate their own popularity. They have low empathy--they are less aware of how others feel than kids who don't engage in bullying. They are more likely to hang out with peers who bully.
GLBTQ teens are FAR more likely to be bullied than their hetero peers. This deserves a post of its own, and it shall have one in the near future.
There are some effective interventions for bullying. But research shows that they don't come in the form of classroom discussions and role playing and that kind of thing. Effective interventions are school-wide, which means that zero-tolerance for bullying is ingrained in the culture of the school, all the way up to the top.
On Wednesday, I'll be touching on cyberbullying, and on Friday, I'll be discussing Hate List, by Jennifer Brown, where bullying is a major issue. Until then--thoughts on bullying? Is it covered accurately in YA? In the media? What do you know about it, and how do you feel about it?
And be sure to check out Lydia's always fascinating Medical Monday post and, if you're feeling overwhelmed and stretched too thin, definitely read Laura's Mental Health Monday post for today!